Dr. Jean Soucie’s call for moderation in the language debate

Dear Editor:

Dr Jean Soucie’s call for moderation on the language debate in relation to health care is sensible and incisive (Telegraph Journal, Tues. Oct 23,2012). After watching weeks of polarisation in the media, we hope that such rational and informed voices prevail. As Dr Soucie notes, our province was founded on principles of compromise, dialogue, and bilingualism – we need to call on all of these principles as we move forward together to create a high-quality, sustainable health care system that serves both linguistic communities.

For a small province, we have managed to create an impressive province-wide hospital system that delivers cutting-edge tertiary care services. And we do it in two languages. We must be diligent about improving and maintaining bilingual health care services across the province. However, to dismantle our current bilingual tertiary care health care system to create two tertiary care systems—one for English, one for French—would be a step backwards on the road to health care sustainability and would undoubtedly result in a sacrifice of quality and the benefits that come from a concentration of medical expertise.

The New Brunswick Medical Society’s submission to the government on their next health plan can be found on our website. When we released it two months ago, we called for a structured, adult dialogue on how to serve patients in both official languages across the province. We hope that Dr Soucie’s comments are the beginning of such a conversation.


Robert Desjardins, MD